Billion Beat is a game I’ve welcomed with open arms (and palms). It’s a title that, for me, is when a mate says they’re going to make a game for us to have fun with, but sees it through, and it’s exactly they pitched it.
It has a knowing kind of humour, self-aware with it’s every move and will tease with a bit of crass, but also depth to it, should you lose sight and think it’s all a gimmick. Inspired by Super Punch-Out!!, you can see the similarities, but from my perspective, Billion Beat is the game I’d choose out of the two. Eff nostalgia.
That might be heresy for some who are loyal to the classic, so you can burn me at the stake as this game opens up some RPG elements – that is, levelling up the stats of your player – and offers difficulty settings that define Easy and Hard.
Billion Beat Early Access Review
Developer, Dronami, teased that there were a few surprises in the hard mode, if into that sort of thing, and while I could pretend to be someone else, I’ll say that after completing the tutorial, I started the game in hard mode.
Before replaying that experience, let me say that the tutorial is a must. The controls in Billion Beat aren’t complicated, but it’s paramount that you learn to dodge and don’t button mash. It says this in some loading screens and to prove a point, I tried. It doesn’t work.
My button-bashing attempt was trying to wing it mostly when playing in hard mode – it was the epitome me of a difficult setting, though it wasn’t stupidly unbearable. However, when you do get a knockout on the opponent only to see them get back up again with full health, you too would have switched to the easy setting, so you could <ahem> ‘get used to it’.
Switching to easy mode (I’m not going to pretend I played it on normal first, I didn’t), I dived into the story mode. As a boxing game, you square up against opponents and beat them up. There, that’s boxing explained. With each win, you earn some dosh, a.k.a. hype, invest in your hams, buy some drinks and fight the next person.
Make A Fist
I loved the skill tree in Billion Beat as it’s either the left or right hand where you invest points. This includes punch power, charging power, et al. Best of all, you do these as individual as nodes. As a right-hander, I was surprised to see that the left hand was my haymaker, and the right was focused on counters. Then again, the predominant selection key in the game was Z, also the left fist.
Playing with a controller is advised, but again, I went against the grain because I’m a shmuck. The keyboard isn’t a bad thing, and it was quite amusing to hear me bashing about on the keyboard like a one-handed typist in a chat room circa the late 90s. A controller slightly had the edge, mostly for comfort as other than standard punches, you have harder hits along with modifiers to pull off an uppercut.
Getting back to this ‘mate making a game’ comment, before each match, a player with taunt you, often making the gesture of auditioning the finger puppets. It’s the equivalent to the teabag from the original Halo, and it made me laugh aloud.
The art style is a Marmite one (look it up, shortcut for Aussies; Vegemite): you’ll love or hate it. It’s pretty loud in places with a bold vibrancy, but it reflects the game for me. Billion Beat isn’t a parody, it’s a very good game, but it does so with this kind of swagger that knows it’s being in your face and can reel it in whenever it wants.
Billion Beat is currently in Early Access, and as per the news piece, you can only play as one character. That sounds a bit restrictive on face value, but there are loads of opponents and upgrades to experience. While this is a game currently going through some refinements, it’s not a demo with half-arsed features.
In case I’m not clear, as a handful of internet comment people tend to make an opinion without reading anything, Billion Beat is excellent, and I’m looking forward to the additional characters in due course. Maybe even get on with the hard mode and see the real secrets, but integrity where due, I’m not the best around just yet, Mr LaRusso.
Punch To The Sound Of The Beat
The above would insinuate Billion Beat is a rhythm game. It’s not, but there’s a natural flow to it, with an emphasis on dodging. By the way, the music is excellent throughout with a good variety of genres throughout with a hint of 90s.
One of the sections I didn’t mention was the Mascoach option. Here you can spend your hype to unlock advice on how to play the game. Sounds like a bit of a wasted feature – even for the basic moves, but it’s here that you realise how much skill there is to the game.
Aside from your dodging tactics, you can pull off one of three EX moves. To unlock their potential, you have to unlock the advice (which is expensive, but as you play through one of three tournaments, you soon have enough dosh). I’ve yet to pull these off in a battle, but they’re… doable. I think.
The difficulty curve is great. Just as I started to get mildly complacent, the challenge went up with a character called Ghetto Knight. By the time I did knock him down, dropping his gear, he had rummaged through the bins and came out looking like a poor man’s Robocop. I’m smirking while typing this line; I still beat him. N.B. it was not in hard mode and only managed an F rating on the first attempt.
Anyway, Billion Beat: Aite or Naw? Definitely Aite. Go check it out now on the respective Steam page.